Waiting on joy

By Maya Pankiw

Lately, everything has been negative. Turn on the news and I am hit with all the worst things that happened that day — COVID-19 updates, the latest political scandal, or a story about some other unimaginable crisis. Looking out my window, I see the cold and bleary landscape that is winter in Ontario. Walking around the city, I see my favourite spots, once bubbling with life and excitement, left cold and empty due to yet another lockdown. This has been everyday life for two years now, leaving me to feel helpless and stuck in a joyless loop of unfulfilling days.

In times like these, it is tough to have perspective. It is difficult to remember all the things that have brought and will bring me joy in the future. It seems impossible that I once experienced days full of joy — days where it felt like the sun couldn’t shine any brighter and the birds couldn’t sing any louder. Joy to me is not simply the feeling of pure happiness that many believe it to be. It is the feeling of complete fulfilment. The absolute certainty that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than where you are in the present moment. When I am full of joy, the day tastes sweet, the sun fills my insides with warm honey, and the wind lifts me off my feet.

Naturally, writing this leaves me wanting this feeling NOW. It leaves me questioning why every second of every day can’t leave me singing from the rooftops and walking with a light bounce in my step. If we are only given one life, shouldn’t we search for joy during every moment of it? The answer is yes, of course we should. We should do as many things as we can to leave us feeling happy. The catch is, how can we know what true happiness feels like, if we have never felt true sadness? Think of it like this — if two people were standing at the top of a mountain, but one scaled the mountain from bottom to top while the other was dropped off by a helicopter, are the two people experiencing the same feeling? Of course not, and this is due to just that — each individual experience. Climbing the mountain was hard work, leaving the hiker feeling as though it were an impossible task at times. On the other hand, for the passenger reaching the top of the mountain was a breeze. At the end of the adventure, however, the hiker feels an unparalleled sense of accomplishment — one that the passenger can’t even imagine. It is the things we experience in life that give us the perspective we need to truly feel that unreserved joy that we all crave. We might be living through the lowest of the lows right now, but each moment of hardship will reflect itself into the purest amount of joy in the future.

For now, the near future may not seem to hold much joy, but soon the flowers will bloom again, the birds will sing loudly, and the sun will shine warmly. When the time comes where we can feel that pure euphoric joy once again, I will know that all the troublesome times were worth it, and I hope you will too.